SignsXM Launches with Out-of-the-Box Lumpy Mail


CustomXM added a new division, SignsXM. It wanted to find a unique way to announce its new offerings which included all types of wide format printing, including banners, signage, wall graphics, vehicle graphics and more. CustomXM also wanted to use a cross media, multi-channel approach that would drive results and illustrate CustomXM’s marketing capabilities.

The SignsXM Awesome Banner Thingy Campaign: Complete with personalized box, envelope, personalized mini-banner and a fun-to-follow instruction sheet below. The inside of the box lid had a QR code that led to a fun video



CustomXM created a unique, dimensional mail piece that included a personalized mini-banner for all recipients. CustomXM encouraged recipients of their “Awesome Banner Thingys” to post photos on Instagram, which would qualify them for entry into a prize drawing.

420 pieces were mailed to prospects and current clients of CustomXM. Over 12% of recipients responded and completed the online survey. Additionally, over 13% of the recipients posted photos of their Awesome Banner Thingys on  Instagram accounts. Many of these respondents were a different subset than those that responded to the online survey.

The campaign received quite a bit of social media buzz and accolades from local ad agencies. It immediately led to meetings and opportunities for signage and direct mail proposals for clients and prospects. Many of these opportunities led to new business within the first three weeks of the campaign.

This campaign also received national recognition by receiving two Bennys awarded by the Print Industries of America during their Premier Print Awards, an international print competition.


The targeted audience was current clients and prospects of CustomXM.


At CustomXM, they like to market themselves a little differently. They like to use the marketing tools they are constantly advocating, and they like to have a little fun. They accomplished all this and more with their “Awesome Banner Thingy” campaign.

Recently, CustomXM added wide format services to their offerings. They even created a separate division, SignsXM. But they felt that it wouldn’t be enough just to tell folks about these new services, it would be better to show them. And have them show others.

To engage its target audience, CustomXM developed a dimensional mailer – an 8” x 8” x 1.25” box complete with a personalized label informing recipients that a “surprise” was inside. Inside the box was the following:

  • A personalized envelope and note card introducing the new division and services.
  • An instruction sheet showing recipients how to put together their own Awesome Banner Thingy
  • A QR Code that linked to a video explaining how to construct the Awesome Banner Thingy
  • The actual Awesome Banner Thingy which was a 3.25” x 7.5” vinyl banner, personalized with the recipient’s name, complete with a grommet and very tiny banner stand.

To encourage responses recipients were given two opportunities to participate in a prize contest

  • By visiting their personalized website and completing a survey
  • By sharing a photo of their Awesome Banner Thingy on Instagram

Above:  photos posted by Box Thingy recipients. Recipients were asked to post photos of their banner-thingys on Instagram with the hashtag #thinkitsignit. The Instagramers were entered into 3 different sets of drawings for prizes and winners were announced via Instagram videos.



The main reason for success was a clever design and personalized promotion.


Article courtesy of W. Caslon & Company, 2015,

Good Grief! Another On-Line Relationship Exposed!

It started innocently enough, as do most on-line, long distance relationships.  One evening after hours, I was alone in my office surfing the internet, and came across this website that was truly engaging.  It seemed to offer something that I had been missing.

So I explored further, digging deeper into the background. I reacted to what I saw.  Making sure it was a match I felt comfortable with, I shared some information, and inquired further. Then there was reaction on the other end. Some emails quickly followed; some even contained very interesting attachments. All very good stuff. Then along came Twitter and the relationship blossomed.  The messages were delivered timely, and all seemed to be speaking personally to me. As the inquiries intensified, so did the responses to them.  Email, direct mail, text messages, and yes, even that first, somewhat nervous “live” phone chat.

Our much anticipated face-to-face meeting came during a conference, in a restaurant near Chicago’s Midway airport.  As expected it was slightly awkward at first.  But then, because we had developed this relationship on-line, meeting in real life only confirmed the fact that this was bound to happen, sooner or later:

I invite you to join my friend John Foley (@johnfoleyjr) for our next Lunch & Learn series on Thursday, June 23rd from 11:30 – 1:00.  This exciting session will introduce to you the best methods of a multi-channel marketing approach to increase your marketing effectiveness.  Register here.

In the meantime, since John will be visiting us from Boston, he wants to make the most of his Arkansas experience.  He has already expressed a desire to experience a HubCap burger.  What suggestions do you have?

If It’s Good Enough for Google…

I admit it, when it comes to direct marketing, I’m drinking the Kool Aid.  After all, it’s what I do. It’s my livelihood.  So when I attend seminars on the benefits of direct marketing, it’s easy for me to get excited to learn about the opportunities that can benefit our clients.  Admittedly, I am somewhat biased.

And when I hear vendor partners like Kodak, Xerox, and even the USPS tout the benefits of direct marketing, even someone as jaded (and as old) as me can often lose sight of the fact that they are trying to sell me something. But when I take a step back and look at the facts it becomes obvious that today’s tools can combine for some incredible direct marketing campaigns.

Consider that according to a 2010 DMA study every dollar spent on Direct Marketing returned $11.73 in revenue. And the beauty of today’s direct marketing tools is that now, more than ever before, marketing budgets can be used to produce measurable results – orders, leads, traffic, etc.

What is it that is driving this direct marketing success? Is it about being social? Is it about being viral? Is it about being mobile?  Certainly this all comes into play, but more importantly, it’s about the data we now have access to via these channels.  Data provides us the opportunity to get personal with our clients and prospects.  Good marketing is all about conversations.  Good data, and the various channels we have, makes these conversations possible. 

But why take my word for it?

I recently received not one, but TWO direct marketing campaigns from GOOGLE.  Yes, the behemoth of on-line advertising sent me offers via DIRECT MAIL. 

One was addressed to “business owner”, but the other, using better data, was addressed to me personally.  And it followed direct marketing best practices: it was designed to generate a response; it has a clear and obvious offer; it calls for a specific action; and that action would be entirely measurable.


Will I accept the offer?  Probably not. I will continue to rely on our own Direct Marketing techniques.  After all, if it’s good enough for Google…


 Paul Strack, CustomXM

Real Integrated marketing with QR Codes

Integrated marketing is what most forward thinking companies strive to achieve with marketing efforts. However a large gap exists between print and web making integration difficult. The use of QR codes in print advertising and marketing can help bridge this gap.

A few years ago while working for a marketing agency the big buzz word was “integrated marketing”. Essentially this was creating marketing flow between your online and offline marketing. Back then this included things like creating targeted URLs to direct people who receive your print piece, creating cohesion between your web site and your print campaigns, and directing people to online signup forms through traditional media. A gap exists between the printed page and a website. This gap is big enough that many modern marketers have written off print advertising completely. People are just reluctant to get a direct mail piece, go to their computer, and type in a web address.

Real quick, look in your pocket or on your desk. Chances are you have a cell phone within reach. In addition chances are it is a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Pre…). The answer to bridging this gap lies right there, it is your constant connection to the world, but you are still not going to type in a web address.

QR codes are a way to help bridge the gap. Web browsing on cell phones is not at a very usable level. Using QR codes in your marketing allows potential customers to easily pick up their cell phone, scan in the QR code, and instantly be directed to the landing page for your ad. The New York Times recently did an article highlighting this very technique with advertising, looking at how various companies are starting a push toward advertising with QR and other 2d bar codes.

As technology and consumer awareness increases so will the integration of print and online marketing. Integrating technologies like QR codes into advertising takes very little effort, and no additional cost. This also adds a second layer of analytical data to marketing efforts, allowing you to better gauge ROI for a print piece. Take a look how Rob McBryde used this integration to move potential customers from his printed business card to his web site.

-Greg Henderson